Nothing romantic about Harley Quinn & Joker

In an effort to scrounge up some inspiration/desperately hope something triggers an article idea, I googled “best superhero couples.”  Three results on the first page have Harley Quinn and Joker on their list.  I googled “best DC couples.”  Two results on the first page have Harley Quinn and Joker on their list.  What’s going on?  Why are they on those lists?  One can’t justify anything sexy about a psychopathic abusive manipulative violent egotistical supervillain dating anyone, much less the emotionally-shattered and deranged Harley Quinn.  I don’t want to judge the readers’ personal preference, but tell me, what’s romantic about this?

JokerHarley30

JokerHarley23

JokerHarley28

JokerHarley27

JokerHarley24

JokerHarley29

Harley Quinn has only existed for a little over twenty years.  And while comic books haven’t always been kind to women (though they’re definitely getting better), is it romance we feel for Harley’s affections?  What about uneasiness?  Frustration?  Anger?  Even if the Joker’s capable of love of any sort (which is highly debatable), it’s Batman who has his heart, not Joker’s bubbly sidekick.  Look, I love the Joker.  I love Harley Quinn.  Those two endlessly fascinate me and both are such rich, bold characters.  But we shouldn’t celebrate the two of them being together and I hope to prove it.

I’m going to use the following issues today:
Batman: Harley Quinn, written by Paul Dini and drawn by Yvel Guichet
Gotham City Sirens #19, written by Peter Calloway and drawn by Andres Guinaldo
Gotham City Sirens #21, written by Calloway and drawn by Guinaldo
Batman #13, volume 2, written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Greg Capullo
Suicide Squad #14-15, volume 3, written by Fred Glass and drawn by Fernando Dagnino

After her huge success in Batman: The Animated Series, it was only a matter of time before she premiered in the comics.  Her first appearance took place right in the middle of the Batman event No Man’s Land, where like pretty much every appearance Harley Quinn and the Joker have together, her dear boyfriend attempts to assassinate her:

JokerHarley2

JokerHarley3

JokerHarley4

Be honest, do you feel romance or pity for poor Harley?

I’ve posted these next series of images before (also because Gotham City Sirens constantly delighted me), and any comparison between the Dark Knight and Joker’s obsessions (each other, essentially) hits a nerve we don’t like to admit.  Superman’s the perfect one, but Batman’s as wildly emotionally damaged as the Joker.  Though without the murdering.

JokerHarley5

JokerHarley6

After this conversation where Catwoman and Harley Quinn both realize they love emotionally unavailable men, Harley Quinn figures she should solve her lingering kryptonite the ol’ supervillain way.

JokerHarley7

JokerHarley8

To be fair to Catwoman, Batman has never tried to explode his paramours.  And while we constantly wonder why Harley Quinn goes back to that psychopath, it’s important to know that the dear girl’s just as messed up as her remorseless boyfriend.  Or at least as delusional.

JokerHarley9

JokerHarley10

JokerHarley11

JokerHarley12

JokerHarley13

JokerHarley14

This scene may be one of the finest I’ve read in a long time.  You see all that anger slowly fade to a mush of only the happy memories to give us a small glimpse as to why she returns infinitely to his open arms.  Thankfully, I think the Batman event Death of the Family that recently took place ended the two’s rendezvouses for a few years.  Status quo’ll demand she’ll eventually get smacked by a giant axe or suffer acid burns at the hands of Joker, but trust me — Harley came out of this event with some serious trauma.

JokerHarley16

JokerHarley17

JokerHarley18

Skinned face Joker is super scary, right?

JokerHarley19

While some critics complained of too many lengthy, philosophical Joker rants filling the pages, I’ve always been a sucker for insane supervillain speeches.  This new Joker feels that any PTSD main course must come with an appetizer of a lecture.  Sure, everyone from Nightwing to Batgirl to Robin to Red Hood to Batman received their Joker speech, but Harley Quinn’s hits especially hard as she’s spent half her life making out with that dude.

JokerHarley21.5

JokerHarley21

I don’t think we’re witnessing any revelations here.  Harley’s almost certainly the first and only one, as Joker pulled similar stunts with the Batkids.  If you like, pick up Harley Quinn #1 released a few weeks ago.  I’m really hoping for success with her new solo series.  Fictional as she may be, I’ll always be rooting for Harley Quinn.

JokerHarley22

Advertisements

56 Comments on “Nothing romantic about Harley Quinn & Joker”

  1. hannahgivens says:

    I’d never call them the most “romantic,” but quite possibly they belong on a list of “best” couples. They’re interesting and different. If they showed up on a list of “most romantic DC couples,” then I’d start getting worried… 🙂

    • jchen says:

      best couple? its an abusive relationship for god’s sake.

      • Hannah G says:

        Did you even read the (years-old) comment you just replied to? I literally said they’re not a great romance and I’d be concerned (am concerned) when people say they are.I just said they’re one of the best couples in the ‘verse. Darth Vader is not a good or healthy or laudable person, but he’s the best character on Star Wars. Take “best” as “most interesting” or “good idea because it’s a crowd-pleaser” or “most complex” or what-have-you. Calm yourself down.

    • ElektraLivori says:

      hahahaha.
      I agree! They are the most awesome couple ever, even though they have some…issues. But in a way, Joker and Harley seem perfect for each other.

      • Andrea18 says:

        They’re perfect for each other? Really?? Because who doesn’t think abusive relationships are perfect right.. idiot.

  2. Gecho says:

    I have a probably unpopular opinion about the Joker. I think he’s a great character, but he epitomises the thing I hate about comics – they can’t kill off their villains. In any sane world, somone would have killed the Joker by now – if not Batman, then Harley; if not her, then some nameless orderly at Arkham who’s just had enough of the irredeemable psychopath, or one of the thousands of grieving relatives of his victims. If the Joker set up a ‘Joker, Inc.’ franchise to train successors, someone could finally off the twisted scumbag and the DC/WB suits could still keep their pasty-faced cash cow. Just a thought.

    • Halequin says:

      But the joker has been killed before like more then once like most characters but when they reboot comics they have to bring back their most popular characters but his not the only one Also theres a lot with out him like Batman beyond had no joker because robin killed him just the jokerz gang (movie not included) and theres batman year one and the old and 52 harley Quinn comics have him in it sometimes but his never really in it. Catwoman comics, nightwing comic, red hood comics, and a somewhat large amount of batman comics. His only really used a lot in movies and games or for a plot twist because his a fan favorite.

  3. Jeff Sugaski says:

    I have to say i fully agree i dont understand why people actualy see them as a great couple. They are how ever one of the best duos in comics Harleys bright and cheery personality works great off Jokers insanity and it also what makes her so funny when Harley fights Batman

  4. GothamRogue says:

    I thank the day that Paul Dini and Bruce Timm created the character of Harley Quinn. My favourite DC villainess by far! 🙂

  5. nicholas says:

    I don’t know if romantic is the right word, but the Harley / Joker relationship definitely reminds me of my own unrequited love, and that’s enough to make me a fan.

    • Ron says:

      Wow. Sorry. Clearly you’re better off if you can compare this to your unrequited love. We’re you the abusive one or the one obsessed because of Stockholm Syndrome?

  6. Kael says:

    Honestly I have to agree thats why I ship Harley/Bats after the Episode “Harley’s Holiday”

    • Jimmy Hexx says:

      Oddly this is why I ship Harley/Nightwing. The pillow talk about their respective “Mentors” would be great.

  7. Bitty Hart says:

    I just now stumbled upon this article and, although it’s almost a year old, feel compelled to put my two cents in. Even more so as it’s written by a man.

    First things first: unless I get transferred into the DC Comics -universe as Harley Quinn, there’s going to be no man who roughs me up and gets away with it. My father was a mean, arrogant, abusive, sadistic son of a bitch by nature. To this day I feel fury and straight up wrath towards violent men. Still, I love Joker and Harley both individually — and together. For starters, the way their complex psyches work with each other is highly entertaining, and there’s so much artistic potential in them as a couple. As indicated, however, that’s not all.

    Harley is made into this naive little dumb-dumb to establish that she’s indeed mentally ill, not just unstable, and to underline the fact that Joker’s taking advantage. That’s why it’s especially easy for male readers to condescend and to pity her. I, on the other hand, sympathize. I have an incredibly low self-esteem, no sense of self(-worth), and I constantly and consciously sabotage myself (which is why, for example, after getting Double-800s on SATs, I failed to get into college — twice).

    It follows that the secret to being able to find the relationship between Joker and Harley fascinating, even romantic, is that, regardless of everything said above, I’ve never agreed to be a victim; regardless of all the negativity forced into my being, I’m in control of my (female) persona; I’m not weak and helpless. I can safely channel my twisted sexual desires, wishes and unresolved issues into the violent play between these two characters. It’s easy for me to identify with the love and the hate Harley feels towards Joker. And indeed, that’s all there is to it.

    When they’re written well (e.g. can’t go wrong with Paul Dini) I enjoy them like I enjoy a well written novel — knowing that in fiction there’s no demand for the high-and-mighty moralities of reality.

    • The Brain says:

      Maybe you should consult with a specialist… the internet is not the place to get help. Dont put your own personal life like that in a post…

    • Ron says:

      You seeing anything about them being together means your upbringing and father effected you more than you realize. I advice a therapist.

      • skeptichope says:

        That wasn’t her point though. She finds watching the two entertaining and therapeutic, itself. Like it or not sadly she’s a character in a situation a lot of people can relate too. People should not be silenced or be told they ‘need therapy,’ just for liking or identifying with a comic book character. Abuse and healing with it is very complicated, don’t judge people for however they want to deal with it, express it etc.

        I find it interesting that just because someone isn’t having what you think should be the ‘correct,’ reaction to their own abuse must be needing to be fixed. People shouldn’t voice their own opinions on the internet really? Ridiculous.

        As for Harley herself… never liked her. At all. Frankly, I always thought she was incredibly annoying, hated her voice, hated her outfit (yes the original one), hated how everyone seemed to think she was masturbation material, etc. I’ve learned to appreciate her more over the years, but more than anything she just makes me sad. That and I’m just tired of women always being victimized and sexualized, (usually at the same time), in media in general. However good the intention of her creator was, it’s just something I’m sick of seeing; yet another warning to girls by a man telling them to be careful, beware of men, dress a certain way the list goes on.

  8. Taylor says:

    I agree completely. It’s disgusting to me that the relationship is romanticized. In this day and age, these abusive relationships are popular amongst women and teens. Whether you look at books like Twilight or go into comics like Batman, abusive relationships are regarded highly. I can go on a long spiel about that, but I won’t. I’ve made that point clear. But I agree with you. The Joker is most likely incapable of love; and no matter how many times the Joker flirts with Harley, he’ll never truly love her (as you showed above). There’s nothing romantic about anyone abusing their “significant other.” While their relationship is undoubtedly interesting to look at, it’s one-sided, abusive and they should never be considered a great couple.

  9. robin says:

    THANK YOU!!!
    It’s about time someone put together a well written article with fantastic examples of the lack of affection the Joker has for Harley.

  10. dcgeek501 says:

    Reblogged this on dcgeek501's Blog and commented:
    Excellent article with Fantastic examples. Thank you Jason!!

  11. megan says:

    joker loves harley.

    • Taylor says:

      That’s why he shoved off the second (or was it third?) floor. Also, it’s also why he’s beat the crap out of her numerous times.

  12. […] written the best couple in comics today, I’d be fascinated to see Warren’s take on the absolute worst. For all her wonderful qualities, Harley has bad taste when it comes to love. Her relationship with […]

  13. Halequin says:

    I think they are a great couple they show the depths someone will go through for love and what true madness can be. The joker abuse harley because he realizes that he likes her and wants her around but can’t come to grips with it because for along time the only other person he cared anything for was batman and his goal is to fight him till they both die. So when when harley came in he wanted to get rid of this new “inconvenience” well also wanting her with him. That’s why no matter how abusive he is to her it’s all pretty weak on what he can really do if he wanted and he always tries to get her back in the end. Harley on the other hand was use to having order in her life, she worked her butt off to become a therapist and when the joker came in to the picture. He brought excitement that changed her world forever in she’s both sad and happy for this. Sad that she can no longer go back to her old life and she realizes that the joker was just using her and happy because she doesnt want it to change and realize that the joker is falling for her over time. Her goal in life use to be to be with the man she loved and owned everything to forever no matter what. Also in later comics and even the animated series Harley usually gets some good hits on the joker even knocking him out and bite out his tongue so its wobbly but I think they are a great couple.

    • Abuse Isn't Love says:

      There is literally NO FUCKING EXCUSE EVER FOR ABUSE. This is NOT a great example of love. It’s an excellent example of Stockholm syndrome in abusive relationships though. But never love.

  14. Harley says:

    Harley and joker=no!!

  15. mrs j says:

    Waiting for my mister j. Best. Couple. EVER! They even had couples counseling. Twisted love is true love.😍😍😍

    • Humanoid says:

      Well then I hope you find him. It’s not true love, it would be if she was a masochist and liked it but boohoo for you she clearly isn’t, but joker on the other side he is a sadist and a bit of a masochist at the same time. Harley quinn suffers with a symptom called Stockholm syndrome = no matter how mean that person is to you in the end you will still love them= but it’s also not love it’s a craving obsession you get, a strange and painful feeling that makes you think you love them and need them when you clearly don’t. Harley is better off with ivy ☆

  16. […] better reading on the Joker/Quinn dynamic (TW): Nothing Romantic about Harley Quinn & Joker by Jason Levine of Arousing […]

  17. Nevaeh Pereira says:

    If you’ve ever really read and payed attention, Harley Quinn is madly in love with The Joker… obviously. In one of the comic book (I forgot the name) it states that The Joker had fallen in love with Harley. He had never been in love with anyone so he was scared of this new emotion. He so scared that he blames Harley and wants to kill her….but that’s just how The Joker is….so I can’t say too much about that.

  18. […] Quinn is probably one of the most tragic characters within the DC universe; having dealt with abuse, suicide, forced estrangement from her child, hypersexualization, and severe mental illness […]

  19. Evelyn says:

    I don’t romanticize this relationship so much as relate to it. Harley is messed up. She is broken and will accept the abuse in trade for what she views as love. Whether physical/emotional abuse or even just changing your entire life for a man, most women have at some point gone down that rabbit hole. Joker is damaged and her initial reaction was to love him and try to mend him. She could never have realized that it isn’t possible to fix someone who is that far gone–(but once you’re in deep with someone your life is pretty much over and you’ll either succumb to them or you’ll come to your senses.) My hopes for her character long term is that she will slowly climb out of it and realize she went off the deep end and start to assert herself/get out of Joker’s clasp/become a very strong stand alone female superhero. I mean because of her compassion and love of animals etc I could see her going to the good side, possible become someone who avenges the abused…although I would miss her villain side for sure as her brand of crazy is fun to read/watch. I don’t think the BDSM dynamics of the relationship are lost people either; It’s a 50 Shades world and we’re just livin in it.

  20. Little_minx says:

    Being one of those couples, for us we don’t focus on the abusive and homicidal nature of the Joker and Harley. They are a different type of couple. Things arnt all perfect and princesses and happy endings. The appeal to us is they are both “crazy, in love,” and partners in crime.

    • That is your problem. You care more about the fantasy and the ‘fluff’ than the ugly part of their relationship. I think it says a lot when young women (a demographic I am a part of) fetishize this because they are at that age where they want ‘excitement’ or ‘drama’ as a way to escape the boredom at their temp job. I am glad that the big heads at DC have established their POV: This is not a relationship to glamorize. Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti in Harley’s own comic have established this. Look at the crap Adam Glass got for pairing Harley with Deadshot. I think fans can be on point on storylines but there are times when they can be so self centered. There is nothing ‘complex’ about the so called relationship. It’s just a bunch of female fans who are so self absorbed and want their sexual fantasies personified in Joker and Harley. That is not sexy.

      • Little_minx says:

        Ok, well I’m not self obsorbed, thanks for making that generalization. But cinsider this: hundreds and hundreds of couples focus on a couple from something to relate to, whether it’s comics, Disney, action movies, etc. but honestly I can’t think of a single one that didn’t have some seriously fucked up problems. I know I’m not gonna convince you that’s is all fine but hey live and let live as long as the people doing this, myself included, know abuse in ANY form is a problem and a reason to gtfo of the relationship. If it’s not hurting anyone or no actual abuse is happening, why is it an issue? We could have the same argument over any numerous Disney couples which many more couples fantasize about. What I like/relate to/ sexually fantasize out is my business. Why must we all be so offended by what other people do and like?

      • FictionIsFun says:

        I enjoy this “romantic pairing” (for lack of a better word), not because I think abusive relationships are awesome but because the dynamic of the duo intrigues and entertains me. When Joker and Harley have fleeting moments of shared villainous happiness, it makes me laugh. When Joker feels like being jerk, I wanna punch his psychotic ass. When Harley returns to the Joker, I wanna shake her and make her come to her senses. Then I see them being “Joker and Harley” once again, giving Batman a hard time and I see the craziness of their relationship and in that moment, they play out the illusion of happiness, which is the appeal of the pairing for me. What they do together, when they’re not at each other’s throats (or the Joker at Harley’s throat) is what keeps me coming back for more. I’m kinda like Harley in the sense that she keeps returning to the Joker, and I keep returning to watching the two wrecking havoc on Gotham.

        The relationship doesn’t repulse me because I can differentiate between fantasy and reality. I would not support this kind of relationship in real life.

  21. Kennley says:

    it makes me sad.. I used to love them. This was one of my favorite couple’s because I never understood how unhealthy their dynamic was.
    I was to refer my now-ex and I Joker and Harley. We were just like them, in more ways than one.
    I don’t think they’re a couple that should be idolized in any way, shape, or form. It makes me sad the media has romanticized this dynamic so much to the point where girls go out of their way to find that ‘crazy, but unconditional love’ thinking that the joker, in some way, loves Harley.
    He doesn’t.
    But what is interesting is they have PERFECTLY captured the dynamic between a sociopath/narcissist and a woman that very well could be suffering from BPD (borderline personality disorder)
    The psychology behind them is what keeps them so interesting.

  22. alwayscastlem says:

    Harley x Joker is an ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP there’s nothing cute about that.

  23. […] if you want to know more about the relationship these two share, I encourage you to follow THIS LINK (the author shares a lot of great examples from the comics as […]

  24. Rosi Gonzaga says:

    Can someone tell me the name of the comic of the last three pictures??? please !!!

  25. Chloe says:

    I don’t care how much some one tries to tell me Harley and Joker would be a good couple I will always deny it. There is too much evidence to the Joker being abusive and cruel to Harley. I’m happy that in Suicide Squad they showed Joker being abusive to Harley so more people realize how he is to her. I hope more people realize it because it’s so frustrating when people think they could ever be a good couple.

    • kevin says:

      your’e stupid……just stop.
      when did the Joker abuse Harley in scuicide squad….he had like 5 minutes screen time the only bad part was when they were in the car and he left but thats not really anything because in the acid bath scene she jumps in and you can see he really loves her because he jumps in with her. Also why would he bust her out of jail if he didnt want her ?

      • Jess says:

        Why would he make her jump into the acid if he really loved her? Also…that scene where he shocks her…this is what we call rationalization…

  26. […] perfectamente el mal, el caos, la psicopatía. Pero jamás se podrá idealizar y mucho menos proclamar que es una relación amorosa envidiable como se nos quiere […]

  27. Laurel.c says:

    Not that I approve of the relationship, but nobody talks about the serious mental illness both the Harley and the Joker have. Of course they are going to have a ridiculously messed up Relationship, not to mention that they are the villains. People have also yet to mention that when batman originally came out it was aweful if women left men, it hasn’t been socially acceptable to leave your “man”. Spouse/Relationship abuse wasn’t properly dealt with until recently and still needs a lot of work. Finally the writers stuck with what works. The audiences preferred the Joker/Harley romance and it doesn’t work if she distances herself. Really it is up to us as the audience to change it. What I would really like to see is a comic/movie whatever about Harley declaring her independence and becoming the hero of her own story. A Harley vs Joker redemption story. It could really speak to those dealing with the same problems and inspire them to save themselves.

  28. […] (2014). Nothing romantic about Harley Quinn & Joker. [online] Arousing Grammar. Available at: https://arousinggrammar.com/2014/01/17/nothing-romantic-about-harley-quinn-joker/ [Accessed 6 Sep. […]

  29. […] for a very important reason–the Joker is emotionally and physically abusive to Harley, in the comics and even in the animated TV series. There are talks of a Harley Quinn solo movie in the future, and […]

  30. TheNeutrallyGood says:

    And here is where I insert a quote from the notorious Mr. J. “You always take shots from folks who just don’t get the joke.” There’s nothing to it people. Stop making drama over the irrelevant.
    Yes, you think that Harley’s treatment in the comics is plain wrong, and it totally IS, in our world. Look at it this way. Harley exists in a world of heroes and monsters, with cities exploding and people dying everywhere, which in our world equivalents to pure chaos and therefore extremely like hell-on-earth. Now here we find in this tumultuous setting a deadly megalomaniac trying to keep his name on the top of the crime pyramid while fending of a bat-costumed vigilante in the pursuit of self-perceived justice. Explosions, chases, and jail/asylum cells later, something felt missing in the picture. Something that could add to the chaotic flavor and deranged hilarity in this clown lunatic’s life. A mad “Sugar.”
    The story would need a lady villainess that would suit Joker’s brand of crazy without diminishing his reputation. The writers needed someone demented enough to love him, durable enough to endure abuse, stupid enough to come back, and is kick-ass enough to complement the Joker’s persona. Thus Harley Quinn was born, made specifically by the writers, to bring more hilariousness and story blocks into the peculiar world of freak experimental ‘accidents’, aliens, righteous heroes, big bad villains, and aggravating clown relationships.
    The situations in which Harley finds herself with the Joker is not meant to offend some of the overly sensitive people of THIS world, but to add to the bizarre storyline in THAT world. Lets just establish a line between fiction and reality, people. How you like a story and its characters depends on your positive perspective of them. If you don’t like it, then make your own bloody story based on your own morals and viewpoints, rather than spoil the happiness other people have with your dark clouds of criticism.

    • JG says:

      Harley Quinn was not meant to be an avatar for your rape fantasies with the Joker. Keep that to yourself. Your defensive tone gave you away. Oh and your fetish is sooooo dark and twisted.. LOL

      • What hella???? says:

        They said nothing like that you idiot. Not to mention that is why Harley was made. They literally said “lets give joker a girlfriend” and they did.

  31. […] Nothing romantic about Harley Quinn & Joker […]

  32. […] my Google Doc, and below the information I’m putting the source. a great source I found was (https://arousinggrammar.com/2014/01/17/nothing-romantic-about-harley-quinn-joker/), this provided probably max 100 pictures that I can use on my website to prove the terrific abuse […]

  33. […] romanticization can go to an extreme like the Joker and Harley Quinn, which is a notorious case for how abuse is seen and then how it is twisted (mostly by the audience) into something of […]

  34. Pointless says:

    You can make this stuff all you want but people will ship it. SOme will see it for what it is and never romantisize it, others will do that exact thing. You can’t stop it.

  35. Moral Dolphin says:

    I’ll probably take some flack here but here goes: I’ve been writing jokerxoc fanfics /long/,before hq came along. Didn’t care for her at first but that’s my prerogative. However, the current jokerxharley ship pushes the notion that abuse is somehow cool, and that mostly all relationships are like this. I have friends who relish the jxh dynamic to where they seek out or are involved in relationships where they actually believe that abuse, verbal or physical is synonymous with love. When I ask why, they say ‘love is supposed to hurt’ and hold up a hq comic book for validation. And too many young (and not so young) women are getting the notion that this sort of thing is romantic. Abuse of any sort is not acceptable, but for now it seems that as long as the comics keep churning out images of battery, attempted murder and other forms of violence, the more it will become canon not just for fictional characters but the fangirls who want to be that ‘ditzy domino’ being pushed down the stairs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s